“Most of what you do as a poet is pretty solitary, and you have to be able to do it for long stretches of time without much recognition,” Willis said. “So it’s a real boost to have that kind of public acknowledgment, to be told ‘we believe in what you do.'”
Willis has been teaching at Wesleyan University since 2002, where she serves as the Shapiro-Silverberg professor of literature and creative writing. She was on leave during spring semester, which allowed her to focus entirely on writing.
Willis said the support she received from professors in the UW-Eau Claire English department not only helped her improve her writing but also led to valuable career advice.
“I was torn between studying what I loved and thinking about what kind of work I would be looking for after I graduated,” she said. “Doug Pearson, then department chair, suggested I check out the graduate program at SUNY Buffalo, which ended up being exactly where I needed to go at that time.”
More information about Willis can be found on her website.